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Sam.28 mars 201528/03/2015 Édition de la mi-journée

The Cahuzac affair: an A-Z of Mediapart's exclusive investigations and analysis

|  Par La rédaction de Mediapart

How it all began, and how it all ended: Mediapart's first article revealing that budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac, while leading a crackdown on tax fraud, had, for many years, held a secret bank account in Switzerland which was, according to information gained by Mediapart, now transferred to Singapore, was published on December 4th 2012. After months of denials and lies before parliament and the press, Cahuzac finally confessed to holding a foreign bank account on April 2nd, vindicating Mediapart's investigative reports, which are listed in one complete dossier here.


Jérôme Cahuzac.Jérôme Cahuzac. © Reuters

How it all began, and how it all ended: Mediapart's first article revealing that budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac, who was leading a crackdown on tax fraud, had, for many years, held a secret bank account in Switzerland which was, according to information gained by Mediapart, now transferred to Singapore, was published on December 4th 2012.

Despite mounting evidence revealed by Mediapart, the minister denied ever holding a bank account outside France, repeating the lie before parliament and his government colleagues, and to the press, which in France largely appeared to accept the denials as genuine.

Mediapart stuck to its story, and urged the opening of a judicial investigation into the evidence that the minister who last November announced a crackdown on tax evasion had himself held an account hidden from the French tax authorities over many years.

A preliminary enquiry opened in January found sufficient justification for a full-blown investigation to be opened, and which began in March, forcing Cahuzac's departure from government, while he continued to deny holding such an account. Two weeks later, he confessed before magistrates that he had, after all, held a hidden account "for some 20 years", vindicating Mediapart's reports.

Below is the complete list of investigations and analysis about the Cahuzac affair published on Mediapart English (click headlines for the full article).

1) The French budget minister and his secret Swiss bank account

French budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac, who last month announced his ministry was launching a crackdown on tax fraud, held for several years a secret bank account in Switzerland, Mediapart can reveal. The funds held in the UBS account were, after it was closed in 2010, allegedly then transferred to Singapore. In an interview with Mediapart, Cahuzac has denied ever holding an account in Switzerland, while threatening legal action if the suggestion that he had was published, which Mediapart does indeed do here. Fabrice Arfi reports.


The following day, December 5th, Mediapart published an audio recording of Jérôme Cahuzac discussing his secret account with an advisor:

2) French budget minister caught on tape discussing his secret Swiss account

Following French budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac’s vehement denials of Mediapart’s revelations that he held a secret bank account in Switzerland over a number of years until 2010, Mediapart publishes here a recording of a conversation in which Cahuzac explicitly refers to the account, held with a branch of Swiss banking giant UBS in Geneva. Fabrice Arfi reports.


December 12th:

© dr
 3) Revealed: the man who handles the budget minister's own personal fortune

Budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac has amassed considerable wealth from his work as a hair transplant surgeon and consultant. Mediapart can reveal the name of the man who handles the minister's personal wealth, the ultra-discreet Hervé Dreyfus. Mediapart can also disclose it was Dreyfus to whom Cahuzac was talking during his now infamous telephone conversation when he was accidentally recorded talking about a secret Swiss account – whose existence he still continues to deny. Fabrice Arfi, Dan Israel, Mathilde Mathieu and Martine Orange investigate the financial background and contacts of France's under-fire budget minister.


December 14th:

4) The budget minister and his Swiss bank account – the unanswered questions

When Mediapart first broke the story about Jérôme Cahuzac and his secret Swiss bank account the budget minister immediately called in the public relations big guns to defend him. The spin doctor Stéphane Fouks and his team at Havas Worlwide/EuroRSCG prepared the minister's strategy. But has the recourse to crisis communications backfired, and is it now starting to work against Jérôme Cahuzac's interests? Mediapart editor François Bonnet lists the questions that won't go away.


December 20th:

5) The budget minister and the Swiss bank account: why only an independent judicial investigation will do

Budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac has adopted a fresh strategy as he tries to defend himself against Mediapart's investigation that shows he had an undisclosed Swiss bank account until 2010. Cahuzac is trying to get the bank to waive its banking secrecy rules to confirm he held no such account – something the bank has so far refused to do. But as François Bonnet and Dan Israel point out, behind this apparent delaying tactic there is a clear conflict of interest between Cahuzac the budget minister and Cahuzac the private bank customer. Which is why, they argue, only an independent judicial investigation can get to the heart of the affair.


December 22nd:

6) Swiss bank account affair - the budget minister's lies

French budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac, who Mediapart revealed held an undisclosed Swiss bank account, has withheld the truth surrounding the affair from the highest offices of state, Mediapart can reveal. Mediapart can disclose that the person who possesses the key recording on which Cahuzac (pictured) is heard discussing his bank account has himself approached the office of French President François Hollande to confirm it is genuine. Meanwhile email correspondence between the minister and friends shows that he himself does not deny the authenticity of the recording. And Mediapart can also reveal that the tax authorities have started to carry out thorough checks of the budget minister’s recent tax declarations, which appear to show numerous discrepancies. All of which, says Fabrice Arfi, is proof that Jérôme Cahuzac is in an untenable political situation.


December 31st:

7) The French budget minister, the Swiss account and the judicial inertia that begs major reform

French budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac earlier this month announced he was suing Mediapart for defamation after this website published an investigation revealing that he had held for a number of years, before he became a member of the government, a secret Swiss bank account. Since its first report, Mediapart has published further information including a tape recording in which a voice identified by witnesses in the affair as that of Cahuzac can be heard discussing the account. The justice authorities have made no move to investigate the case, prompting Mediapart’s Editor-in-Chief Edwy Plenel to write to the Paris public prosecutor’s office demanding an independent judicial enquiry. In this interview, Mediapart’s lawyer, Jean-Pierre Mignard, argues that the judicial inertia is the result of the submissive hierarchical relationship between the prosecutor’s office and the executive political powers, one which President François Hollande has previously pledged to bring to an end.


January 9th:

8) French budget minister and Swiss bank account affair: police open investigation

A month after the publication of revelations that budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac held an undisclosed Swiss bank account until 2010, a formal investigation has been opened into the affair, Mediapart can reveal. The prosecution authorities have started a preliminary inquiry into the alleged 'laundering of the proceeds of tax fraud'. The investigation is being carried out by detectives from the national financial and tax investigation unit the Division nationale d’investigations financières et fiscales. Fabrice Arfi and Michel Deléan report.


February 9th:

9) French fiscal authorities query budget minister's tax returns

French budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac is being investigated by the tax authorities over suspected irregularities in his tax statements, notably undeclared and under-declared assets, Mediapart can reveal with the publication here of a confidential document listing their queries. The tax inspectors’ enquiry is being led in parallel to a separate preliminary judicial investigation, launched last month, into Cahuzac's suspected 'laundering of the proceeds of tax fraud' relating to evidence that he held a secret Swiss bank account before entering government. Fabrice Arfi reports.


March 16th:

10) French budget minister's tape recording about Swiss bank account genuine, say investigators

The position of Budget Minister Jérôme Cahuzac in President Hollande's government is increasingly under pressure after a preliminary formal investigation has revealed that a key element in the allegations surrounding his undisclosed Swiss bank account has been authenticated. Technicians and witnesses have confirmed that a tape recording in which Cahuzac is heard discussing his bank account at UBS in Geneva is genuine, and that the voice indeed belongs to the socialist politician. Cahuzac has always denied having the account. Investigators now believe the affair should be handed over to an independent examining magistrate. Fabrice Arfi reports.


March 19th:

11) Swiss bank account investigation forces French budget minister's resignation

French budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac has resigned after it was announced on Tuesday that a full-blown independent judicial investigation has been opened into evidence he held an undisclosed bank account in Switzerland. The events follow the authentication by forensic police of a tape, first revealed by Mediapart, on which he is heard discussing the account, which he has hitherto denied holding. Announcing the opening of a judicial investigation, the Paris public prosecutor's office said an examining magistrate will now seek the cooperation of the authorities in Switzerland and in Singapore, to where funds from the account were allegedly transferred. It also revealed the investigation will pursue claims that money paid into Cahuzac's account came from pharmaceutical companies.


March 21st:

12) 'We're losing 5-0': the sombre mood among French socialist MPs after budget minister's resignation

The resignation of budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac after a full judicial investigation was launched over his Swiss bank account sent shock waves through the ruling Socialist Party. Many MPs refuse to believe that their colleague has lied over the affair. Others want to turn the page as quickly as possible and put the matter behind them. But as Mathieu Magnaudeix, Stéphane Alliès and Lénaïg Bredoux report, one thing that is certain is that the resignation has not improved the mood in the ruling party, where one MP likened the current situation to a football match in which his side is being hammered.


Then finally, on April 2nd, Jérôme Cahuzac confesses:

© Reuters
13) Axed French budget minister admits secret foreign bank account

Former French budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac has made a startling confession that he did indeed have an undisclosed foreign bank account, as originally revealed by Mediapart four months ago. Cahuzac, who resigned last month after a judicial investigation was launched into the affair, used his own blog to admit that he has held a foreign bank account “for some 20 years” and that it latterly contained 600,000 euros. In his statement, Cahuzac, who had earlier confessed to the two judges leading the investigation into what was until today suspicions that he had a secret foreign account, said he had been trapped in a 'spiral of lies' and begged the French public to forgive him. The former minister was immediately placed under investigation on Tuesday, a legal status that precedes charges.